5 Awesome Programs to Replace Default Windows Software and Apps

Ben Stegner 07-03-2017

Windows comes with a lot of software pre-installed. While many of its features aren’t appreciated enough 6 Underappreciated Features of the Windows Operating System There are plenty of Windows features you use every day, but some you might not have ever seen. Let's give these underrated tools some credit. Read More , some Windows apps that are simply inferior to other tools.


Let’s look at the best software to replace Windows’ default offerings. While many third-party tools offer only slight improvements The 13 Best Free Search Tools for Windows 10 Windows Search is only good for basic and casual use. If you search Windows often, you may be better off with an awesome third-party search tool. Read More over a Windows app, these five blow away the stock offerings in every way and are must-haves.

1. Google Chrome > Microsoft Edge

Edge is Microsoft’s attempt to get people to use the default Windows browser after years of Internet Explorer (IE) being looked down upon by users everywhere. While it’s far less of a pain than IE, it’s still not worth using as your default browser 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Switch to Microsoft Edge Yet Is Microsoft Edge worth using while Chrome, Firefox, and Opera are still around? Is Edge good enough to be your primary browser? Read More .

Edge finally offers extensions 10 Best Microsoft Edge Browser Extensions You Should Try Today The latest Windows 10 Upgrade finally brings browser extensions to Microsoft Edge. We have examined the handful of extensions available and show you which ones are worth your time. Read More , but not nearly as many as other browsers. You won’t find basic conveniences like tab syncing or power user features in Edge, so it ends up feeling incomplete.

Our top pick for an Edge replacement is still Google Chrome. It has a massive library of extensions The Best Chrome Extensions A list of only the best extensions for Google Chrome, including suggestions from our readers. Read More that add so much functionality to your browser, and plenty of tweaks for power users 10 Hidden Chrome Settings You Should Change There’s more to Chrome settings than the basic tweaks you made when you first set up your browser. Let’s see what that involves. Read More to fiddle around with.

Its sync capabilities let you open your desktop tabs on your phone and vice versa. The Chrome experience tops off with speed, security, and new features arriving regularly. Some people do have issues with Chrome I Hate Google Chrome But I'm Trapped In It. Here's Why In the Chrome vs. Firefox war, I'm siding with the Google users. But I don't want to. Chrome is my browser of choice because it has features that I can't live without. Read More , but for most we wholeheartedly recommend it over Edge.


DownloadGoogle Chrome

2. VLC Media Player > Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player has been around for years Remember These? 7 Ancient Windows Programs Still Used Today They say technology advances at an exponential rate. But did you know some programs have been around for multiple decades? Join us for a walk down Nostalgia Lane and discover the oldest surviving Windows programs. Read More . It’s still present in Windows 10, but hasn’t changed much since its Windows 7 iteration.

With the rise of streaming media and lack of optical drives in newer machines, you probably don’t open Windows Media Player often. However, a good media player is still important to keep around.

VLC Media Player is an easy choice for the best. This tool can play everything that you throw at it, so your video and audio files have a central home. It also natively plays DVDs How to Play DVDs & Blu-Rays on Windows 10, Even Without a DVD Drive With the removal of Windows Media Center, it has suddenly become more difficult to play DVD and Blu-ray discs on your computer. Fortunately, you have alternatives, including third-party tools or virtual drives. Read More , and supports advanced functions 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try VLC is a media player more powerful than you might realize. Are you using it to its full potential? Here are some pointers. Read More like ripping audio from video. And you can set up a home media server using VLC How to Create a Linux VLC Streaming Media Server for Your Home Enjoying music or movies via Netflix or YouTube is great, but what about when the Internet is down? With a VLC media server, you'll never have to go without entertainment again! Read More .


Even if you only use it sparingly, there’s no reason to settle for Windows Media Player.

DownloadVLC Media Player

3. Paint.NET > Microsoft Paint

Paint is the basic image editor included with Windows. MS Paint has improved We Tested the MS Paint 3D Preview: Here's What We Think MS Paint has been around for as long as Windows existed. The Windows 10 Creators Update will include Paint 3D and Remix 3D. Will these free tools help 3D modeling go mainstream? Read More since its inception, but at this point, it’s still a barebones solution that’s frustrating to use for anything outside of simple cropping jobs.

Everyone needs to work with image editing at some point. Whether it’s rotating, blurring sensitive info, or editing large parts of the image, you need something better than Paint 10 Free Photo Editor Tools To Make The Most Of Your Shots Whatever happened to all the snapshots you've taken in the past? If you've got plans and ideas, here are some great Windows and some cross platform tools to process them with. Read More .


Paint.NET is your best choice. It offers far more features than MS Paint without an overwhelming interface. You’ll find layers, automatic adjustment, blending, blurring, and more all inside an easy-to-use package. It won’t replace Photoshop for hardcore editing enthusiasts, but most users can do all the editing they need in Paint.NET.


4. Notepad++ > Notepad

Windows Notepad gets overshadowed by Word, but it’s still a useful utility. There are plenty of useful applications for a quick text file, like jotting down a brief note or having a place to strip the formatting on text 5 Ways to Strip Formatting When You Copy and Paste Text Here's how to copy and paste without formatting on both Windows and Mac using several convenient methods. Read More . Notepad even has some tricks up its sleeve 8 Surprising Windows Notepad Tricks You Must Know The inconspicuous Windows Notepad is full of surprises. You'll want to keep this ancient Windows program handy at all times after we showed you some of the tricks it can do. Read More .

There’s no reason use it, though, when Notepad++ exists. This free tool is so feature-packed that Notepad is probably embarrassed. Notepad++ includes tabs so you can keep multiple files open at once and even stores unsaved files until you explicitly close them. If you’re using it to write code Text Editors vs. IDEs: Which One Is Better For Programmers? Choosing between an advanced IDE and a simpler text editor can be hard. We offer some insight to help you make that decision. Read More , you can select a language for formatting and auto-correct help. Macro support lets you automate repetitive tasks and save time.


If you need more functionality, Notepad++ has a library of plugins that give you more options, like a spellchecker and HEX converter. You won’t find weird Notepad annoyances like the Ctrl + Backspace shortcut entering a weird empty character, either. Even if you never write code and just use Notepad++ to scratch down notes, it still deserves a place on your PC.

Download — Notepad++

5. ShareX > Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool included in Windows is way faster than pressing PrintScreen and pasting the image into Paint. But it’s still pretty basic. You can’t make quick edits to a screenshot or upload it to any services.

For that, you need a better screenshot tool The 4 Best Windows Screenshot Apps and Tools Here are the best Windows screenshot tools, whether you need a basic screen capture app or something with advanced features. Read More , and we like ShareX for most people. ShareX includes an impressive amount of features, such as live editing for getting the perfect shot How to Take the Perfect Screenshot in Windows The best way to take a screenshot depends on the version of Windows you're on. We show you the subtle differences, give troubleshooting tips, and reveal the best keyboard shortcuts and tools. Read More , tons of places to upload your images to, and automatic steps to take once you’ve completed a screenshot.

It uses the powerful Greenshot editor but builds greatly on it. It even includes some features that Snagit charges for, like scrolling your screen to capture a large area.

Screenshots are useful for all sorts of moments, so it helps to have a great editor for working with them. The Snipping Tool simply can’t compete with everything ShareX has to offer.


Which Windows Apps Have You Replaced?

There are several other default Windows utilities that could have made this list. We almost included Windows Defender as its antivirus protection isn’t as solid as other choices, but it makes up for that 4 Reasons to Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 In the past, Windows Defender was overshadowed by other options, but now it's quite a contender. Here are a few reasons why you should consider dropping your security suite in favor of Windows Defender. Read More by avoiding the nag screens, useless browser extensions Is Avira Browser Safety a Necessary Extension? Avira Browser Safety sounds like a great way to stay safe online, but do you really need this extension? Let's take a look at what it does for you. Read More , and phoning home that other antivirus software has. Some Windows software is fantastic, but for these tools you just can’t beat the free alternatives.

Complement these programs with more must-have apps New PC? 15 Must-Have Windows Applications You Should Install First Got a new computer or just reinstalled Windows? These essential apps are must-have software for Windows 10, no matter what! Read More and have a look at popular programs you should uninstall 12 Unnecessary Windows Programs and Apps You Should Uninstall Wondering which Windows 10 apps to uninstall? Here are several unnecessary Windows 10 apps and programs you should remove. Read More to make your software experience even better.

Which built-in Windows software do you swap for another tool? Add your favorites to the list below in the comments!

Related topics: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Notepad, Screen Capture, VLC Media Player, Windows Media Player.

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  1. DrTucker
    April 1, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Edge > Firefox/Vivaldi
    Media Player Video > VLC/PotPlayer
    Media Player Audio > XMPlay
    Notepad > Metapad
    Photos > Irfanview/XnView
    PDF Viewer > Sumatra PDF
    Whatsapp/Facebook > Franz
    Explorer > Q-Dir/Altap Salamander
    StarMenu > OpenShell

  2. Larry Sessions
    November 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Notetab is a great Notepad replacement. Even the free version is great, but I use the business version. Good product. I've tried Notepad++, but I prefer NoteTab.

  3. Antony Pace
    June 20, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    How could you possibly leave out Directory Opus? Can't use a PC without it.

  4. Victor Barrantes
    March 16, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I replaces standard Windows File Explorer with MultiCommander

  5. Victor Barrantes
    March 16, 2017 at 5:58 am

    MultiCommander instead of standard Windows File Explorer.

  6. J S Perry
    March 14, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Replace Mail with Mailbird. Infinitely better.

  7. Carlos Baron
    March 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I'd replace VLC with K-Lite Codec Pack mega, works better for me

  8. Mark
    March 10, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Firefox > Chrome. Doesn't supply NSA's databases.

  9. KensonPlays
    March 9, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    MPC-BE I prefer over VLC. Runs a lil better.

  10. Ravi Joshi
    March 9, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    1. Firefox (Edge/IE)
    2. notepad++ (notepad)
    3. Thunderbird (default mail app and MS Outlook)

  11. Mulleflupp
    March 9, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Ditto clipboard manager instead of standard Windows/Office clipboard

    • Vijay
      March 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you for telling this app, its really awesome!

  12. Mohit
    March 8, 2017 at 7:42 am

    I swapped windows with Arch Linux. I am happier than ever.

  13. Davin Peterson
    March 8, 2017 at 12:02 am is written by people at Microsoft. It is a much more advanced version of Windows Paint. The Windows 10 Creators Update will come with Paint 3D.

    VLC Player is a great player and is comes with many codecs, so it can play many formats.

    Microsoft has neglected to update several of the accessories that come with Windows. They haven't changed much since Windows XP.

  14. ReadandShare
    March 7, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    The Mother of All Replacement apps: Classic Shell Start Menu. Installing this one first and foremost prevented me (and I am sure countless other desktop users) from hating Windows 10.

    • Scott Howard
      October 19, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Absolutely true

  15. Howard A Pearce
    March 7, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    The biggest replacement I have made is replacing the file management part of explorer with Directory Opus
    While is somewhat expensive , it is extremely customizable with it's own command structure for many commands with which you can build your own buttons/menu. In addition it handles scripts too